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    Where the Wild Things Are

    June 5, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    I’ve mentioned before that our backyard is an untamed wilderness. The problem with this is that we live in the suburbs, and we are supposed to have a nicely landscaped grassy area surrounded by neat and tidy shrubs and flowers. We blame this entirely on the landlord, who promised us a backyard a year ago this spring and has yet to follow through.

    I’m not really writing to complain about this, because I have discovered an unintended side effect that is giving E. some unplanned nature lessons, and we’re really enjoying it. We are now a Bird Habitat. In fact, I bet by posting this, our backyard will become some sort of protected environment and we’ll never be allowed to put in our landscaping. {After all, California quit believing in the principles of private property a long time ago…but I digress…}

    Anyhow, I thought I’d share a bit of the research I’ve been doing. After all, mommies need to be able to answer questions intelligently {one can tell I’ve been reading Charlotte Mason from this comment}. And E. is four now. “That’s a bird” doesn’t quite cut it anymore.


    The Mourning Dove

    Supposedly, this quiet little guy {gal?–they both incubate the eggs, Mourning Doveand they look alike, so it’s hard to say} has a mournful cry that can be quite enchanting, but we have yet to hear a peep. We have been given some dirty looks for getting too close to the nest. The nest is perched atop some parts of E.’s yet-to-be-assembled swingset. No babies yet, but obviously there are eggs because the nest is never vacated by the parents. I will try to take photos of the eggs if I ever see the nest empty, but at the very least I hope to capture the babies in a week or two. I’ve read that the incubation period is less than two weeks!


    Some Sort of Lark

    Okay, so we think this is a Horned Lark*, but I hestitate to call it by that Larkname because I’m not positive. A few of the details in the description I read don’t sound like an exact match. My father was raised to call the bird a meadowlark, but when I looked it up, meadowlarks are decidedly yellow on the head and breast, and this bird is all earth-tones all the time. If any reader knows about birds, I would love to know the official name for this gal. I know this is a female Larkbecause I watched her lay the eggs {from a distance–it was still amazing}. I must apologize that she is so contorted in these photos. She does some amazing twists and turns when one gets too close to her nest which, by the way, is basically a shallow hole in the ground that is barely lined with some bits of twig and leaves. She guards it fiercely and is quite noisy, both day and night. She Larkactually charged some of the children when we had company Saturday night because they expressed their curiosity too openly. In fact, one of the reasons I don’t have a decent photo of her {or one of the eggs at all} is that I am a bit afraid to get too close. That, and the lack of a good zoom lens. The eggs are speckled and look a bit like rocks that one would find on the ground, which is ideal since that’s where the nest is.

    So that is all {for now} of our Wild Things. It’s not as exciting as my friend R.’s mountain home. She can brag about scorpions in the hallway and bears rummaging through trashcans. But it’s not bad for a simple suburban backyard! Of course, I could share our recent Cockroach Incident…

    *We later learned that this is actually a Killdeer.


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